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Wild Turkey

May 6, 2010

Imagine my joy when I came home yesterday, opened my mailbox and found a copy of All About Birds: A Short Illustrated History of Ornithology, by Valerie Chansigaud (Princeton Press, 2010). If you’re having trouble imagining my joy, suffice it to say that it was intense. It’s a great little volume (even if the prose is, perhaps, a little on the under-exciting side) that covers the major events in Ornithology (from the Greek ornis/ornitho for bird and logos for speech) from antiquity to the 20th century. No small feat for a 236 page volume! The book itself is beautiful — hard bound, gorgeously and generously illustrated, with a timeline at the back (I love timelines!). At the end of the 236 pages, I’m going to be intimately familiar (and so, perhaps, are you!) with the key players in Ornithology — I promise you, excitement shall follow in due course.

For now, I’m going to leave you with my favorite picture, an illustration of the Meleagris gallopavo from Buffon’s Histoire naturelle, which was, believe it or not, a 10-volume bestseller in 1786!

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count of BUFFON (1707-1788) had a most astonishing gift for turkey depiction. I wish my science teacher had shown us this picture back in grade 9. Who knows, I might have developed an interest in the history of wild turkeys rather than the history of literary memoirs. Hm…not sure which would prove to be more useful.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 11:11 pm

    hmm…I think you should drink Wild Turkey before your next birding adventure. then tell me what birds you see.

  2. Alison permalink
    May 9, 2010 12:25 pm

    Keep us updated on how you like the book–especially the visual aspect!

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